WHAT Biko Maximus, real name Bukhosi Maphosa, managed to do this week is hog the showbiz headlines.
Depending on how you look at it, the action which culminated yesterday with a radio interview on the much-followed ZiFM Ignition breakfast show made waves.
The radio host Tee Kay even offered to help further his cause. What does Biko want? Apparently, Biko a long-standing hip-hop head may have been hungry for his 15 minutes of fame.
But that is not charitable is it? The thing I know about Biko, who I know personally, is that he is quite principled. He is the sort of guy, whether you agree with those principles or not, who will put his head on the block for what he believes.
When I heard from close sources about the groundbreaking protest walk I was not incredulous.
Making a point : Hip-hop protest
Music producer Biko has managed to etch his name in local showbiz posterity as the man who walked all the way to Harare, infamously referred to as Bambazonke, to make a point and ruffle feathers.
“Regarding Biko, I think he is misled, he doesn’t have the facts and is misleading people,” Beefy the organiser of the Zimbabwe Hip-Hop Awards was quoted saying in a local newspaper.
“We don’t want to see him at our awards. In the event he attends we will get him arrested because we are afraid he will disturb proceedings.”
Here comes the Bikoman. But Biko was really protesting the marginalisation of Bulawayo artistes in terms of airplay. Is the marginalisation deliberate? Perhaps not. The simple explanation may be that radio stations just do not care.
I mean, they play music of South African artistes tirelessly. Because of people like Biko, they will have to start listening. I am sure the folk in Harare will understand.
The nation has heard. Tying the walk with hip-hop awards was a publicity masterstroke. Kudos!
My analysis in the aftermath of the awards is that the walk may have helped the likes of POY (best album for Blood Money Jacob), Blackbird (Nonkululeko Vundla), Cal-vin and Mark Vusani to snag awards. Who would dare not recognise Bulawayo artistes after the protest walk?
Biko had no stake in the outcomes really except that he had a cause. None of the artistes who won are signed to his label. A question must arise: Are Bulawayo artistes cry babies? No. They fight for their rights. They don’t roll over and play dead.
So my prediction is that in future people will not be careless when dabbling in issues concerning Zimbabwe in the field of our arts and culture.
Composers’ annual general meeting
Which leads me to another gig which was held in the city. Songwriters gathered at Jesus Life International to meet the newly-minted board.
Last year Albert Nyathi (65 votes), Charles Charamba (58 votes), First Farai (14 votes), Emion Sibindi (11 votes), Joyce Simeti (13 votes), Bob Nyabinde (12 votes) and Bernard Manyonganise (13 votes) were elected into the seven-member board along with lawyer Witness Zhangazha who won a landmark battle for the music rights association against ZBC over royalties in the High Court in a decision which was later upheld by the Supreme Court. The organisation’s members, however, stand at over 2 500 registered.
Zimbabwe Music Rights Association (Zimura) has decided to enlist the services of a local company Logical Systems which has developed Music Hub Application in Zimbabwe (Mhanzi) application software at the cost of over $5 000 to track airplay in all radio stations currently utilising material under Zimura’s jurisdiction.
This also includes the works of international artistes.
The development was necessitated by concerns members raised about the log sheets submitted by radio stations. The association utilises log sheets to establish the royalties that are distributed to members.
Zimura is a member of the Society of European Stage Authors and Composers which is a conglomeration of international song writing societies that subscribe to the Berne Convention and administer the rights of composers throughout the world.
Zimura members are entitled to royalties, free legal assistance on signing contracts, duty-free importation of instruments support, funeral assistance through Cell Funeral Fund specially designed for artists.
To date, Zimura is owed over $2 million in royalties by local radio stations. In the meantime, composers such as Velaphi “VG” Gumbo continue to smart over paltry amounts they continue to receive from Zimura.
It seems that composers will only get sizable amounts upon dying. In a tragicomic moment in the proceedings at the annual general meeting, board chairperson Albert Nyathi deplored an incident in which one of the members requested his funeral assistance while still alive. I know that he was dead serious (excuse my pun).
The reality is that while alive, many of the association’s members may never receive the $700 in the value of funeral assistance given their families to assist with burial arrangements.
The idea behind the measure was the scandalous pauper’s burials that artistes in the past were treated to as many died without even a basket to their name, leaving family members desperate. It is a noble idea. It has its critics though: Pay us now.
Jah Prayzah steals song
Polisile Ncube Zimura’s chief executive officer, among other things, exhorted members to avoid using the intellectual property of fellow artistes without authority.
Jah Prayzah is a recent culprit. He plagiarised the work of Ghananian musician Samini. He went on to “write” a song called Mwanasikana whose video won a National Arts Merit Awards (Nama) gong for best video for the year 2013.
Jah Prayzah is apparently unrepentant saying he heard the song in a movie, liked the beat and took it.
Moreover, he claims that he did not know it was copyrighted. Jah Prayzah is member of Zimura by the way .
You realise how disingenuous the young man is. It is a sad commentary on artistes who bemoan marginalisation by society to then dare perpetrate this kind of mischief on other artistes. Boo Jah Prayzah.
Nama do the right thing
Nama must now proceed to strip the award from Jah Prayzah’s team and give it to someone else. It is the right thing to do. It sends the correct message.
Zimbabwe Music Awards organisers have yet to do the right thing too. They probably think silence is golden. In their case, silence is ridiculous and befuddling.
They want to protect their brand? What brand? You distance yourself from mischief if you want to build your brand and you are thinking about longevity.